The monkey in the old tales of the central highland peoples

Monkeys are more intelligent,  smarter than any other animals and very good at imitating Monkeys appear in ethnic culture,  often symbolizing optimism,  mischief and sometimes put on divine elements,  such as the monkey god Hanuman Divinity in Indian legend,  the Chinese story of Son Wukong in Xi You Ji Journey to the West.  In the Highlands the image of the monkey also appears in the legend of some indigenous peoples,  both close and friendly to people and the mountains here but at the same time,  very agile,  clever and funny animal.

The monkey in the old tales

The monkey in the old tales


An old tale of a group of M’nong ethnic people has explained why people do not eat Monkey meat

Legend says it that:  Once upon a time,  M’nong women found it very difficult to give birth mothers tend to die during delivery;  therefore they must have had abdominal incision to take the baby o M’nong villages,  it was believed that when a baby was born,  another person must die as a replacement Until one day,  in the village a woman was about to give birth,  and her husband and the villagers were very worried,  suddenly a herd of monkeys came to ook for food and frolicked near the village.  Looking at the baby monkeys playing happily besides their mothers,  the husband of the woman about to deliver thought of his wife and his unborn baby,  he immediately approached the mother monkey to moan and ask her to rescue his wife and his baby After listening to the whole story,  the monkey leader agreed to help but asked the husband and the villagers to bring the monkey s papooses full of corn,  seven bunches of ripe bananas and other kinds of fruits.  After feasting,  the monkey leader gave a signal to the whole herd to go to the forest to collect a type of viscous leaves then crumpled and squeezed the viscous water into the woman’s vulva,  then rubbed the belly of the mother to make the delivery easy;  thus,  the mother was rescued,  both her famil and the villagers were very happy.  Since then,  to show gratitude to their animal benefactor for rescuing their tribe,  the M’nong never eat monkey meat.

In the K’ho old tale

The monkey appeared to be nave,  honest and trusting.  It said that:  The monkey and the tortoise made friends and lived close to each other One day,  the tortoise asked the monkey to pick bamboo shoots in the forest.  The monkey carried a closed papoose while the tortoise used a papoose with a hole in the bottom.  The Monkey had a step further,  while the tortoise slowly walked after the monkey;  therefore the tortoise took nothing.  On the way back the tortoise said to the monkey:  You make your papoose tired,  look at me I drop the shoots in the papoose this way,  and they come home automatically;  why not exchange papooses?  The monkey thus agreed to exchange papoose.  On the way back,  the monkey ran fast,  and promptly picked bamboo shoots,  putting them in the leaking papoose,  the tortoise walked after,  just picked the shoots up and dropped them into the papoose.  Coming home,  the tortoise told his wife to cook bamboo shoots for food and throw the shell into the monkey’s house.  The Monkey scolded his wife for not cooking,  and did not listen to her explanation.

The monkey went to the back of the house,  and saw the shells,  got angrier and scolded his wife and children for eating up the food and told him lies.  The tortoise showed sympathy and invited the monkey to take the food from his house.  On another occasion,  the tortoise and the monkey went to the forest together to look for eggs.  The monkey gathered chicken’s eggs,  the tortoise picked up stones and told the monkey they are the pig’s eggs.  The tortoise told the monkey that eating chicken’s eggs would give birth to naughty children,  whereas pig’s eggs would help to have good children.  The monkey believed and asked to exchange eggs with the tortoise.  On coming home,  the monkey asked his wife and children to sit around the stove,  then he tied the pig’s eggs above the stove then cut the string so the eggs dropped into the boiling pot,  the boiling water splashed all over and his wife and children got scalded,  crying noisily.  The monkey said: “Don’t wait for the eggs to be cooked”.  Hearing the noise the tortoise went to the monkey’s house and asked the monkey’s wife to take the eggs from his house to cook for the children.  Another time,  the tortoise invited the monkey to drain the pond to catch fish The tortoise sat under the rock and imitated God’s voice to threaten the monkey: “Do not eat fish,  eels frogs,  only pick up crabs,  shellfish,  or the whole family would die”.  The monkey was very afraid and discarded all the fish and came home.  The tortoise picked up all the fish,  eels,  frogs In the old tale of Xo Dang people,  the monkey appeared to be mischievous,  for instance,  the story of the naughty monkey,  which is always annoying people and animals with his tricks but also very funny The image of the monkey in the culture of the central highland ethnic peoples is fairly close and friendly to humans.  The monkey is a smarter,  more agile animal than other animals;  as such,  monkeys know to imitate and show emotions almost as humans do.

By Doan Bich Ngo

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